An NBC News investigation revealed that election officials in the most heavily populated counties of three crucial swing states – Arizona, Pennsylvania and Michigan – still haven’t received formal training on how to detect and fight attacks. Election security experts stress the importance of training local election officials on how to avoid cybersecurity risks noting in particular “spearphishing” emails that appear to be legitimate, perhaps from Google or an internet service provider, but are meant to extract passwords and other private information from the victim. “Phishing attacks are a form of social engineering,” said University of Michigan election security expert J. Alex Halderman. “The one very important thing is to train people about what they are, how to recognize them, and how not to fall for them.”
A bill passed out of the Senate Intelligence Committee contains key provisions designed to defend the electoral process from Russian meddling and other foreign interference. The bill, introduced by Intelligence Committee Chairman Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) states that within 90 days of the legislation’s passage, theDirector of National Intelligence must coordinate with other relevant officials and agencies to develop “a whole-of-government strategy for countering the threat of Russian cyberattacks and attempted cyberattacks against electoral systems and processes in the United States, including federal, state, and local election systems, voter registration databases, voting tabulation equipment, and equipment and processes for the secure transmission of election results.”
Computer security expert Matt Bishop responded to a New York Times op-ed by James Woolsey and Brian Fox that proposed using “open-source systems that can guard our votes against manipulation.” Bishop cautions out that in fact, “open-source systems are only one step towards guarding our votes against manipulation—and the hypothesis that using open source software will by itself improve security is questionable at best.”
As revelations mount about the vulnerability of the U.S. election system and Russian attempts to infiltrate it, lawsuits like the one seeking to overturn the special election run-off in Georgia’s 6th District may become more common. The bi-partisan plaintiffs contend that fact that the state’s voter database was exposed to potential hackers for at least eight months should invalidate the results. Cybersecurity researcher Logan Lamb, who discovered the security flaws on the Secretary of State’s website, said in an interview that he believes the website was also vulnerable to a well-known hack and the server was not secure.
According to data collected by the Election Assistance Commission, Kansas discarded at least three times as many provisional ballots as any similarly sized state did. Critics of Kansas’ election system argue its unusually high number of discarded ballots reflects policies shaped over several elections that have resulted in many legitimate voters being kept off voter rolls in an effort to crack down on a few illegitimate ones. There is particular attention on Kansas now because its secretary of state, Kris Kobach, is co-chairman of Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.
A federal district court rejected a claim by seven Maryland Republicans that the state’s 2011 redistricting violated their First Amendment rights, setting up another Supreme Court fight over the heavily litigated maps. The 2-to-1 decision allows the state to maintain the current voting boundaries for the 2018 election and puts the lawsuit on hold until after the Supreme Court has ruled in a similar partisan gerrymandering case from Wisconsin scheduled for October.
As part of a court-ordered redrawing of district lines, North Carolina lawmakers released proposed maps that met with fierce criticism at public hearings. Many speakers were critical of the redistricting committee’s use of Tom Hofeller, a veteran mapmaker for the Republican Party, to draw the new maps after the ones he drafted in 2011 included districts ruled unconstitutional by the federal courts. Nevertheless the maps were approved by committees in both the House and Senate with more votes scheduled for next week.
For the fourth time in two weeks a federal judge has determined that the Texas legislature discriminated against black and Hispanic voters by drawing up electoral maps or voter-ID requirements that—by design, effect or both—reduce minority influence in the voting booth. On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos found that the state’s new voter id law, passed in June, is still invalid, because its predecessor law was passed with discriminatory intent. And on Thursday a three-judge panel in San Antonio unanimously ruled that Texas must address violations that could affect the configuration of House districts in four counties, where lawmakers diluted the strength of voters of color.
Angola’s ruling party won the most parliamentary seats in Angola’s election, the electoral authorities said Friday, empowering it to replace the longtime president who is stepping down after nearly four decades. But the main opposition party disputed the results in the election held this week, asserting the vote had been marred by illegal actions that were “more than irregularities.”
Kenya’s opposition will argue before the Supreme Court that technology enabled rather than curbed election fraud, as it seeks to overturn a vote this month won by President Uhuru Kenyatta. Opposition leader Raila Odinga’s National Super Alliance (NASA) said in a petition filed on Friday that results from more than a third of polling stations were “fatally flawed”, in some cases because of irregularities in electronic transmission of paper results forms.